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Kiwis Want Access To Private Purchase Medicines

Kiwis Want Access To Private Purchase Medicines

Virtually all New Zealanders (97%) surveyed believe that if the government is unable to subsidise new medicines to all of those who may benefit then they should be available privately rather than not at all, according to research undertaken by The University of Auckland .

While the majority of New Zealanders surveyed understand that the government cannot afford to subsidise all medicines, they want innovative, new medicines that are either not broadly subsidised or not subsidised at all to be available for private purchase.

The research was commissioned by GlaxoSmithKline New Zealand (GSK) to better understand general awareness and attitudes towards access to prescription medicines in New Zealand.

"The research clearly shows that respondents understand that the government cannot afford to pay for every new medicine, even if some of these are widely available in other countries. However, the majority of respondents, regardless of their ethnic background, age, income or gender, stated that they would like to be informed of all of their treatment options, both subsidised and private," commented researchers Doctors Denise Conroy and Paul Ballantine of The University of Auckland.

"Increasingly, more and more GPs are offering patients both subsidised and private purchase options. However, some doctors may feel understandably uncomfortable asking patients to pay for a medicine if they feel patients may be unwilling or unable to pay," said said Lisa Bright, Vice-President and Managing Director of GSK New Zealand.

"Of course, if there is a subsidised option available, patients should try it first. As with any prescription medicine, only the doctor in consultation with the patient is able to decide which medicine is most appropriate, whether a private purchase medicine could offer incremental benefits over and above the subsidised option. GSK encourages patients to ask their GP about both subsidised and private purchase treatment options so they can make an informed decision about the medicines that will achieve the best possible health outcome for them," said Lisa.

Most kiwis (90%) surveyed expect that their GP will offer them all clinically appropriate treatment options, including both subsidised and non-subsidised medicines. However feedback from research focus groups conducted by the University of Auckland suggests that many patients do not ask about all of their treatment options because they expect that GPs will routinely cover both subsidised and private purchase treatment options during consultation. The majority of respondents (80%) said that they would feel unhappy if they were not offered all of their prescription medicine (both subsidised and unsubsidised) options by their GP.

Research shows that, on average, 87% of New Zealanders surveyed would be prepared to pay for a private medicine if it offered them benefits over funded medicines.

"An example of where patients are opting for private purchase medicines is the class of medicine called glitazones which are used to treat type 2 diabetes. Glitazones are currently subsidised for 1,000 patients. Unfortunately this is a small proportion of those who could potentially benefit from them. The number of patients choosing to purchase glitazones privately is actually greater than those who are eligible for subsidised access," said Lisa.

‘‘We understand that difficult decisions have to be made about which prescription medicines are subsidised. The reality is that without private purchase medicines being available alongside subsidised options patients would simply not have access to innovative new medicines which are widely available elsewhere in the world," she added.

Private purchase medicines are available in New Zealand from many research and development based companies for a range of conditions including: Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, cancer treatments, benign prostatic hyperplasia, migraines, dermatitis, bipolar disorder, erectile dysfunction, eczema, osteoporosis, smoking cessation, alopecia, pain and malaria prevention and treatment.


Notes to Editors

About GSK

GSK New Zealand is a research and development-based pharmaceutical company that invests approximately $6.7 million per year in New Zealand on the research and development of new medicines. GSK is committed to developing innovative new medicines and vaccines that help New Zealanders do more, feel better and live longer. GSK believes patients have a right to know all of their treatment options in consultation with their doctor, including the availability of both state subsidised and private purchase prescription medicines.

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